I attract ridiculousness.
Some people have ‘kick me’ signs on their backs, I have a ‘bring on the craziness’ sign on my back.
Tuesday morning I woke up at the usual crack of dawn time, but instead of writing and hitting the gym I was showering and packing up the final items for a business trip to Dallas.
Four others are coming along, but I headed out a day early for meetings.
- No problem, I love traveling alone.
Easy peasy, right?
At 7:27 am Tuesday morning my husband dropped me curbside at the Edmonton International Airport. I did the usual hurry-scurry through the lineups, security and customs with the not so unexpected full bladder. For some reason I am always at the near explosion level while getting quizzed by customs officials about what fruits and vegetables I may or may not have in my laptop bag.
Chatting in line, I met a man who used to play minor league hockey, an air conditioning specialist in Mexico City, and a mom of four kids.
I settled into my seat at the back of the plane in the midst of an Indian band of sorts and quickly realized that they don’t speak English, nor do I speak Hindi after a sitar beaned me over the head on its way up to the overhead compartment.
After a long delay, an announcement interrupted the drone of the plane’s air conditioning.
Folks, we have a problem with the main gas tank. It seems to not be working. We are going to power down the plane and reboot to see if it ‘fixes’ it.
Two reboots later and three phone calls to the main office in Houston, the problem remained.
Houston, we have a solution.
There are times when people should really think about what and how they are going to say before they say it. The solution to get the plane off the ground was to fill up the remaining two gas tanks, empty 20 people off the plane and land in Denver, not Houston to refuel.
It should work…so they said.
- Let’s just say I volunteered to get rerouted.
While I watched my plane sit on the tarmac for 3 hours and waited for my SFO then DFW flight to arrive, I had coffee with a US Marshall. Richard bought me water and told me hilarious stories. I worked on projects and caught up on email.
The connection time between my new flight to a main hub in America and my flight to Dallas was tight to begin with – 45 minutes, but doable. If you add in a late arrival to Edmonton and a delay because they have to literally empty the crap out of the plane your connection time become impossible.
My flight departed at 4:08. We landed at 4:07.
- One minute is one minute.
Before you could yell, ‘super-loree‘ I was running with my laptop bag, purse and wrap flying behind me. When you run on those people mover things, you are literally flying.
I arrived at my gate bent over at the waist, gasping for air. Seconds previous to my sweaty arrival, they shut the door.
Apparently once the door is shut there is no opening it.
United…we do not help you.
After I was able to breathe, I hefted my laptop bag and off I went to customer service with the two men who also got a workout getting to the gate. Together we meandered to the place of ticketing possiblities.
I thought ghost towns no longer existed, but I guess I hadn’t visited a United Airlines customer service desk before.
Angry, travel worn people poured out sob stories to each other. An angry man in the ‘premiere line’ shouted obscenities at the woman helping the regular people. Apparently the premiere line person called in sick.
- It was a very good day to be a normal person.
Behind me in line was one of the bravest 17 year old boys I had ever met. He was moving across the country to live with his dad in his Senior year of high school. Two bags and a hopeful heart to connect and play sports was all he brought with him.
I am now on Instagram.
While spending the next few hours with Armando, he convinced me that Instagram is awesome and I should use it. So I signed up and have yet to post a darn thing.
Keeping a good attitude was foremost in my mind as I slogged through half of America to get to my destination. As my bag came off the carousel at baggage claim, I gave a deep lunge and threw my arms up in the victory pose.
My new friend Armando loved it.
The last step I needed to take to be able to put my head on a pillow was to pick up my rental car and drive to the hotel. I was excited and thought it was a good sign that we rented from ‘Advantage’. I decided it was a statement that something great was about to happen.
Apparently the great thing I had yet to experience was another ghost town.
The only car rental place in the DFW airport that was closed and didn’t have an affiliate to give me a car was Advantage. I asked the man running National what happened to make Advantage so unfriendly. He cocked his head to the left and raised one eyebrow. I laughed and shrugged it off with something about gas tanks, a US Marshall and Instagram.
My explanation didn’t help.
- I was car-less, tired, hungry and travel worn.
After procuring a taxi which required an exchange of secret information passed from me, to the dispatch, to the driver and then back to me I was on my way to my hotel.
When I arrived at the hotel and the automatic glass doors didn’t open, I just laid my head on the glass and sighed.
My head found a pillow at 2 am after inhaling a bag of microwave butter popcorn, setting my alarm for 6 am so I could make my meetings and letting my husband know I made it to Texas alive and in nearly one piece.
It was actually a great day.
- Practice what you preach. I got to choose my attitude all day long. Using humor and encouragement to defuse tense situations was a requirement to make it through. Who knew announcing you need gum for epic travel breath while in line at the United non-customer service desk would halt the beginnings of a riot?
- Learning new things. Now I know about Instagram. Or at least I know I should or could know about Instagram – there is only so much social media one woman can handle!
- It isn’t all about you. If the only reason all this happened was to meet a kid named Armando and let him know that he is awesome and brave and is on a path to do amazing things, then it was all worth it. Sometimes it is about you, but rarely. I had a great time encouraging him and helping him dream for the future and what his new life could look like. Bringing hope to someone is an honor.
Today I am running on 4 hours of sleep and experience more rental car fiascoes and google map misinformation travels, but I am happy and very blessed.
But I do have to let you know, it really is true what they say….